A friend was asking me the other day what writing software I used. After I had thought about it, I realized that I had tried my fair share of writing and editing software. I am on a Windows computer at the moment, but I am hoping to get a Macbook Pro (I am using the powers of manifesting) sometime shortly. I used to be really into gaming but not so much anymore hence the Dell. Most of the programs I have tried were Windows so I am not sure if they will work on a Mac. If you have any experience with the following on a Mac, let me know in the comments!
This is what I started on when I entered college and what I have stayed with. I know many people hate Word, but I am so used to it that nothing about it bothers me. I love the editing capabilities it has. I don’t love having to save it then email it but as I have found no one program does EVERYTHING you want it to.
I also don’t love its spell check. I am a horrible, speller. I was born profoundly Deaf, but my mom was in really deep denial and stuck hearing aids on me and sent me to the local public school where we learned by the way of an ancient hooked on phonics method. It did not work out so well for me as I lacked the ability to hear even the phonics. I can write out ideas and stuff but spell? Nope. Luckily in this day and age we have Grammarly, so I can pretend I am an excellent speller.
Aside from these two drawbacks I love Microsoft Word. I know I am in the minority on this, but I do.
Once upon a time a friend told me that I could save my money and get Open Office that was just like Microsoft word but free. I gave it a try and promptly decided that I wasn’t broke yet enough to deal with it and went out and bought the newest version of Word.
I like to be fair so I will agree that it gets the job done. If you are broke, and the person is demanding a “Word like” document then yes, Open Office is your friend. It types and saves and it will open in Word. Most of the time.
Open Office spell check however, leaves a lot to be desired. I tried it, and no matter how many times I ran the spelling and grammar check I felt that my paper still looked and sounded like ass.
Second it will most of the time open in word IF the person saved it correctly. And you can imagine when a classmate would ask me to go over their paper, and they had not saved it in the correct format and that entailed a lot of back and forth trying to get the damn thing to open. I am a nice person, so I would do it but imagine you are sending an article to a busy editor. I guarantee you that if they cant open your document it is going in the trash file.
I LOVE SCRIVENER! I wished I had this program in college. I have mild ADHD so I do best when I can break down the writing into parts. I can make a mind map on Freemind then import it and work on the project in bits and prices then compile it, and it turns out to be a damn good document.
It also has loads of other features that are too many to go in here. I don’t even know what they all are, and I have been using it for a year. I bought a Scrivener course a while back. I should make time to watch it.
I found out only a couple weeks ago that you could type in Evernote then import it into Scrivener. Evernote is on every device known to man. You can even get it to work on Linux, so If you are out and about and want to work on your masterpiece you can type into Evernote and later import it. This blew my mind so hard.
I push this program on everyone who wants to be taken seriously as a writer. I have convinced many friends to buy this software, and everyone has loved it. After they have figured out what all it can do. I know many people hate the idea of learning software that you have to take a course on just to know everything but it is worth it.
It only downside is that far too few people have this software and editors won’t take a Scrivener file, so you have to compile it into a Word document. But for everything it does it is a must have program.
I have a love-hate relationship with Google Docs. So many website editors want the “file” in a Google Docs thingie. I love it that I can just hit share and off it goes with editing capabilities to the editor and then it comes back, and you can fix it right there. And with the browser extension, Grammarly will work with it.
The downside is I don’t really write in a linear fashion. For example, with this article I have it broken up into ten different sections in Scrivener and I am hopping back and forth as the ideas come. If I tried that with a google doc, it would end up looking disjointed, and I would probably never get another writing assignment again. For ME, it is only good after I am ready to send it, and I copy and paste it and send it off. If you can write in a linear fashion, then I highly admire you, and you can probably skip everything and just write in Docs.
My computer was in the shop, and I borrowed a friend’s Mac and he had something called Pages on it that he claimed was “the same as word but on a Mac” umm no, it is not. Not even close. I hated that program. The pages did not break so I had no idea how many pages I had written, and it did not even have a word counter. If you are a professional writer that word counter is a must have. Editors have different word counts, and if you go over then you will just get it back with instructions to trim it but without knowing how many words you have how are you supposed to do that?
I think Pages spelling and grammar check was made by a third grader, there is no way to import seamlessly anything from Evernote. There is no way just to send it to someone, AND I couldn’t find a way to save it as a word file. I ended up copying and pasting the entire article into google docs.
I would never use this program again.
Of all the programs I have tried, I always end up with Scrivener, Microsoft Word and when I have to, Google docs. I feel as if I have set up a workflow with these that are as seamless and as painless as possible so that I can focus more on writing. I did not include Evernote in this because that is more of a scratchpad kind of thing for me. If I am doing a huge chunk of writing, I am on my computer and not on a tablet or my phone.
What are some of your must-have programs? I know every writer is different, so I am looking forward to hearing what yours are in the comments!